SSDs have made their presence felt across more consumer products, these days, which range from notebooks to the hot new topic in town, Ultrabooks, that primarily use SSDs for storage. While this is all good, the prices are still on the higher side, which means it’s not affordable by many, and continue to be something for the enthusiast crowd. Among many memory manufacturers, who also have a good SSD portfolio, Intel has been a long time player and has only recently launched their brand new 520 series SSDs that feature for the first time, SandForce’s SF-2281 controller for full SATA III (6Gb/s) speeds. Other companies, like OCZ have long been using this controller and now Intel joins the gang as well.
Design and Features
We received the 240GB SSD from Intel, which comes with a bunch of accessories, too. Let’s start with the SSD, which is a 2.5-inch drive and measures just 7mm in thickness, which is why we have a little plastic frame on the top allowing you to install it in products that adhere to the 9.5mm size. The plastic frame is held on by four screws, which can be easily removed. The SSD uses Intel’s 25nm NAND flash memory and features 256-bit AES encryption for protecting your data.
Comes with a good bundle
Also bundled in the box is a 3.5-inch bracket, so you can easily install the SSD into your desktop in case your chassis doesn’t have mounting holes for SSDs. You also get an installation disk, 5-years warranty card, SATA III cable, SATA-to-Molex power adapter and case badge. The drive is also very power-efficient, since there’re no moving parts. Intel claims an idle power draw of just 600mW.
SATA III ready!
The drive is also compatible with a bunch of software from Intel, like SSD Toolbox, Data Migration Software, Rapid Storage Technology, etc. Their 520 series is available in different capacities starting with 60GB and ending at 480GB.
For this, we connected the SSD to our Testbench, which consisted of an Intel 2600K, Gigabyte P67A-UD3R, 8GB G.Skill RAM and an AMD HD 7950 graphics card. We start with some of the Synthetic tests like HD Tach, which returned quite an impressive sequential read speed of 419 MB/s. The same goes for CrystalDiskMark as well, which returned a sequential read speed of 376 MB/s and a write speed of 292.7 MB/s.
Very good performance
SiSOFT SANDRA 2010 returned much better results, with both the read and write speeds maintaining a steady 400+ MB/s speed. The new SandForce controller seems to be doing wonders to the bandwidth for SSDs. Coming to some of the real world speeds, we used a 4GB sequential and random file to copy to and from our WD Velociraptor. We also tried copying the same files from one partition of the SSD to the other. For getting the real world write speeds to the SSD, we used a program to generate the required files directly on the SSD, in order to avoid the bottleneck caused by the Velociraptor. This easily simulates having two hard drives in RAID or even copying from one SSD to another and shows the true potential of the Intel SSD. The scores speak for themselves, here, as we get a whopping 315 MB/s writing a single 4GB file to the SSD.
It wasn't possible to replicate the read speeds as well, so for this we had to transfer the files to the physical drive. Here, we got a sequential read speed of 95Mb/s and a random speed of 87.5Mb/s. Clearly, the Velociraptor was bottlenecking the performance of the SSD.
Priced at $509 (Rs. 24,900), which makes it slightly cheaper than the Plextor PX-256M2S that we reviewed a while back. It’s still an expensive solution, though and will probably only appeal to enthusiasts. If you’re looking for a boot drive, then you don’t need this kind of capacity, you’re better off with a smaller capacity SSD. The new 520 series from Intel offers some of the best performance an SSD has to offer and if money is no object, then the 520 series from Intel is totally worth it.